Many years ago, my first husband Eddie and three partners started a fruit business when they bought an apple, peach and pear orchard. They thought it was cool, going back to the land, doing something very different than their straight-laced upbringing & college education had taught them to do.
This attitude is much like that of many life coaches. We chose our profession because it is full of life and away from the mainstream business environment. The connection isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem.
One of my inspirations for how amazing it is to have a great business niche comes from my experience in the fruit growing business!
When they first started their business, they followed the path of other fruit growers in our area, selling their fruit at a fruit stand and to food processors.
What they found, though, was that the territory was well-worn and hard to make much of a living from. It also didn’t allow them to grow spectacular fruit using very few chemicals which was what jazzed them the most.
They brainstormed how they could branch out and came up with the idea that, maybe, people would like to have fruit delivered to their door. This seemed like fun, so they bought a van and started a delivery service.
A great idea perhaps, but it turned out that people were not interested in this service after all. They didn’t mind driving to pick out their own fruit at one of the many fruit stands in the area.
More brainstorming ensued, and they got the idea of finding a niche for their business. The niche they chose was “wealthy people in the city.” Maybe these people would be interested in paying a premium price to have fresh fruit delivered right to their door.
One of the partners, Jim, just happened to know a lot of people in the nearby city of Washington DC and he thought they would be interested in homegrown fruit.
This time, with the sting of failure still fresh and a clear niche to engage with, it made sense to do some market research before putting a lot of time and money into marketing to their new niche.
Jim went door to door in some of the wealthy neighborhoods of his friends, knocking on the door and asking people what would interest them when it came to having fresh fruit delivered to their homes.
He discovered two things.
- These people were very interested in his product. They were health conscious and liked the idea of having the best-tasting fruit. They also really liked the idea of knowing the people who grew their food.
- They, too, were not at all interested in home delivery! They wanted a community. They wanted a place in their neighborhood where they could gather with each other and purchase homegrown food.
Farmers Markets were beginning to take off at the time. They were mostly in very public places with a lot of competition among the farmers. They were also highly regulated which limited the potential profit that could be made.
This particular niche liked the idea of a Farmers Market, but they wanted one that was more boutique and one that they could call their own.
They soon found a Church parking lot that was willing to rent space, and, from day one, the niche-based farmers market was a success.
They were able to sustain this success for over 25 years growing their business, expanding their product line, producing some of the best fruit in the region while providing a healthy income to the four partners and their families.
Here are the takeaways that you can use in your business and life.
1. They started with a solution and didn’t do any market research to find out if anyone actually wanted that solution. They wasted time and money.
Failure is just one step toward success if you…don’t give up!
2. They didn’t give up. They learned from this lesson and regrouped.
3. They first chose a potential niche. One where they knew people could afford the higher end product they most wanted to sell.
They were clear on their values and passion.
4. They did their market research.
Market research is simply asking people what they want!
5. They brainstormed over and over again, iterating their ideas until they landed on something the marketplace wanted.
6. They let go of their original idea and listened to what people wanted.
This is a big one….we all have great ideas…and we can get attached. Being open to input is a big component of any kind of success.
7. They were bold enough to forge a new path to serve their niche.
This is my personal favorite part of the story. I love doing new bold things…and the most fun is when that boldness has a positive impact on others!
There are many more little lessons in this story. I would love to know what your takeaways are. In what ways can you do something similar in your business? In your life?
We here at Soul Driven Success are interested in what people want our help with. Over the years we have found it super helpful and fun to connect with people who are in our community.
What has us excited and curious today is to connect with coaches to find out what would help them succeed in a soul fulfilling and profitable business.
If you’re a coach and this is something you would be willing to share with us… please take our very short survey using the link below.
If you know a coach and would forward this to them, we would be very grateful! We really want to know what coaches need to succeed.